“Release the Just” — An Open Letter to Pontius Pilate from His Wife

Claudia2
Claudia Procula

Claudia Procula is said to have been the wife of Pontius Pilate. As he was trying Jesus for blasphemy, it is said she had a dream about the dangers of persecuting Jesus — the greatest of all Innocents. Claudia was believed to be a proselyte of Judaism, who eventually embraced Christianity. As the granddaughter of Emperor Augustus of Rome, she made her influential case to Pilate; but her words went unheeded. (BibleGateway.com)

My dear husband,

Once already you handed over the Just Man to die. Once already you washed your hands of the matter. Once already you faced Love itself and sentenced Him to death. Once already you sided with cowards and hate-mongers.

You do not get to do this again.

You do not get to wash your hands of the Just while you look away.

Please, open wide your powerful hands and see them for what they are: hands that have hurt, hands that have signed off on death warrants, hands that have helped the poor through your pride rather than your humility, hands that have written false words, hands that have been upturned towards God in sincerity but not stretched out towards others in peace.

I beg of you, do not wash your hands once again. Do not lay blame on the victims, on mental illness; do not create false reports of how everyone sins equally or how evil affects us all; do not rinse holy water — for all water is holy — over your fingers absolving you of any responsibility for the legacy we have inherited.

We — you and I — were born into power and privilege. We do not live as the Caesars do, true, but we live in such a way that we do not have to think about how our own soldiers will treat us; we do not have to think about where our next meals are coming from; we do not have to think about how our priests and scribes and holy people will treat us. We simply dwell in these realities with little concern.

By rinsing your hands again you show the world that you still have rage against the reality of these privileges; by walking away and blaming another, you deny our supremacy that our forebears enacted against other people again and again and again. You may very well see before you Innocents, but by justifying your blamelessness in these times you sentence them to a fate worse than death: an erased existence.

Husband, I plead with you to change your mind this time. I beg of you.

For while you hold the power to kill or set free, you do not have all the universal power you think you do. You saw that truth in the Just Man’s eyes; you heard that in His voice; you understood that in your bones. You knew! And yet you still judged Him “Guilty!” and walked away. You looked Innocence in the eyes and crucified Him, but blamed the rest of the world for your pandering.

Do you think for one moment that by using all the holy texts in the world it absolves you from the violent legacies of our families? Of our Empire? It does not! We cannot wash away the blood we have incurred over the centuries — black, red, brown, and white. We have crushed them all in ways we refuse to hear. We clamp our hands over our ears, sing all the louder to our gods, and we condemn those crying out to us for justice.

How can you wash your hands again?

I’m begging you to release the pitcher in your hands. Set the water down. Open wide your palms and see the blood on them. Do not shy away from the truth — the truth told not by our own slick soothsayers and prophets, but by the ones who suffer each day because of our legacies.

The blood, one day, will be washed clean. The Just One has already seen to that. Forgiveness is a journey we can all now take, but it can only be started if you choose to accept the reality around you. If you keep denying your privilege, the reality of our supremacy, and the generational trauma it has caused the Just One’s peoples around the world, then you side with the cowards who kill… who destroy… who seek their own authority… who believe we are better than those of different colours, different faiths, different creeds, different orientations.

And after we’ve looked away for the millionth time — when our lives are near their ends — who will be left to dwell together with?

No one.

And we will be the only guilty parties left before God.

Please, my husband, release your denial; recognize your complicity; humble yourself to speak of our violent ways towards millions of others. You saw in the eyes of the Just One how this needed to be so. Here again is your chance.

Take it.

For the love of God and others, take it.

Please, husband, do not wash your hands again.

Your wife,

Claudia

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